I have just scanned 7 new images of the exterior of the Shard in London and added them to the website. Here's a selection. They were all taken on 10th January with quite a good sky at times but rain stopped play from 3pm to 6pm. Just 1 night shot as it eased off on our way home.
I have two exhibitions of my work this year. The first of these is of some of my winter hill and mountain photographs at the Derby Cathedral Centre, called Winter Peaks. It's a mix of Mountains and Peak District.
It's on now until the end of February and entry is free.
The last 3 days we have been skiing in Colorado. Tuesday at Arapahoe Basin, Wednesday and Thursday at Beaver Creek.
All days were cold with poor visibility so I did a lot of skiing and no photography. I didn't even carry the camera, luxury. Can't remember the last time I skied without my Mamiya 7 camera and tripod before this trip.
There was a bit of light around 4pm as we were skiing the last runs of the day so I took these on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone.
Tomorrow we try and ski at Vail but more snow is forecast. Not expecting to take any photos but will check forecast in the morning before deciding on whether to carry the Mamiya 7.
The weather brightened up the last couple of days. Lots of sunshine after fresh snow.
Yesterday we snowshoed about 7 miles in Rocky Mountain National Park. We went up to Cub Lake and down to the Fern Lake trail to do a circular route. Good snow cover all the way. Really nice shots of tree trunks and their shadows on the snow. Forgot to take on the phone to put in this blog so please be patient for when I have had time to process the films and add to my website.
Today we went back to Red Rocks in Boulder to take the shots I took on my mobile phone the other day, but this time on my Mamiya 7 camera with Ilford FP4 film.
We have been walking around the Boulder Foothills the last few days. There has been some fresh snow to brighten things up but it needs a bit of sunshine to help the photos.
We have also visited a few local breweries: Boulder Brewery, Upslope Brewery, Walnut Brewery, Southern Sun and Mountain Sun Brewery, J. Wells Brewery, Wild Mountain Brewery. All brew a wide selection of beers and all had at least one stout or porter, my favourite style of beer.
Yesterday and today about 8 inches has fallen. In the ski areas like Vail and Beaver Creek, where we will be from Tuesday to Friday, they have had nearly 3 feet. Roll on Tuesday!
The Mamiya 7 is a rangefinder camera, which means it is not possible to look through the lens, so normal polarising filters are difficult to use. Fortunately Mamiya make a special filter that gets around the problem. The bad news is that it costs £230 new in the UK. I bought a secondhand one for £90, including shipping, from Ffordes Photographic of Beauly and it looked like new and even had the piece of tissue on top of the glass that would be the first thing to be thrown away on first use so I don't think it had been used at all!
I actually bought it to take some photographs from the viewing gallery of a building where the only way to take photos was through glass. This proved to be only a partial success, there were just too many reflections. As it was a new toy I included it in my kit bag for our current photo trip to the USA.
It fits to the lens so that it can be pulled up vertically. Once in this position you look through the filter as you rotate the front element. When you see the effect you are after you push it straight down in front of the lens. It is reasonably easy to use but means that the front of lens is open to the elements while you are adjusting the filter.
There are 2 filter thread sizes for Mamiya 7 lenses but one filter fits both as it comes with an adaptor ring built in for both the 67mm and 58mm lenses. The adaptor ring takes some getting used to and is a nightmare to use with thick gloves in a blizzard! I ended up taking my gloves off when switching between lenses and suffered a bit of frost nip to my right index finger as a result.
So how was it to use? In the city it was easy once I worked out how the adaptor ring fitted to each lens. In the Colorado Rocky Mountains on a cold windy day after fresh snow it made taking pictures very difficult. In fact I was using it between -15° and -20°C with winds gusting 25mph blowing powder snow around while standing on the frozen lake covered in about 15 inches of fresh snow while wearing snowshoes.
First of all as you raise the filter vertically the front of the lens is exposed to the weather. In my case that meant I was getting snow on the front of the lens and the back and front of the filter. Not good and I did a lot of lens/filter cleaning during the 30 minute shoot! It was also difficult to rotate the front element of the filter to see the effect in the cold conditions.
One thing I hadn't expected was that it wasn't possible to look through the raised filter with a second viewfinder attached to the hotshoe on the top plate of the camera. The 43mm filter needs this or you don't know what you are taking photos of. This viewfinder usually stays fixed to my camera as I use the 43mm lens so much but the fixing was difficult to undo in the cold as my fingers were pretty numb by this stage (I left the polarised shots until after I had done the orange filtered shots).
I used the 43mm and 65mm lenses, the foreground is more prominent with the 43mm but the mountains are more of a feature in the 65mm shots. The orange filter darkens blue sky well but also darkens green, sometimes too much, so I was hoping the polarising filter would darken just the blue sky and leave the greens alone.
In the end I managed 3 rolls of Ilford FP4 120, that's 30 exposures. One roll with the 65mm lens and orange filter, one roll with the 43mm lens and orange filter and one roll with both lenses and the polarising filter.
Finally a bit of detail about the location. I was after a shot I had tried for on 7 previous occasions. It was from the surface of a frozen lake called Red Rock Lake in the Brainard Lake area of the Colorado Rockies (about 20 miles west of Boulder). At the end of the lake are dense conifers with Mount Audubon and Paiute Peak in the background. I also wanted good foreground interest, frosted trees and blue sky above the peaks, so not much to ask for!
My wife Jan sheltered in the trees out of the worst of the storm during most of the time I was taking photographs, but did take some colour shots to give you an idea of the situation and conditions.